Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lake Sammamish Kokanee on the Move

Eyed eggs with ID tag
Over 150 miles . . .  That’s how far Lake Sammamish kokanee will travel before they ever hatch from their eggs.

Originally, eggs were collected from adults in small tributaries of Lake Sammamish to be incubated in a hatchery setting. To reduce risk, half of the eggs were transported to Quilcene National Fish Hatchery while the other half remained at Issaquah Creek State Fish Hatchery. Once the eggs at Quilcene NFH reached the eyed-up stage, they were safe to handle and final arrangements were made to transport them back to Issaquah. 

Eggs are wrapped in cheesecloth

Before the trip began, the eggs received thermal marks to help identify the hatched fish from different hatcheries and different tributaries. The eggs were then wrapped in wet cheesecloth to keep them moist and placed in racks in a cooler that had been designed specifically for the long trip.

Eggs in cooler baskets
Each batch of eggs was placed in a separate basket within the cooler. Ice was placed on a rack above the egg baskets and allowed to drip on them, ensuring that they would not dry out. As soon as all of the eggs were in the cooler, it was securely put into a vehicle and the eggs were on their way. After a bit of a drive and a short ferry ride, the eggs made it back to Issaquah. 

Ready to go!
Upon arrival, hatchery staff at Issaquah made sure that the eggs had made the journey unharmed. The eggs were unwrapped from the cheesecloth, quickly examined, and then dipped in disinfectant as a precautionary measure to ensure that they remain healthy. They will remain in the care of hatchery staff in Issaquah until they hatch and are returned to their parents' native stream. 

Here's a link to a recent article in the Issaquah Press describing the efforts being made to preserve this dwindling salmon species: